Can Cats Eat Avocados? Benefits And Precautions
You want what’s best for your cat. You want her to be healthy, have a gorgeous shiny coat, maintain a good weight, and lead a long active life.
The question is, are you confident that you’re providing your cat with the right nutrition to help her achieve these milestones?
Here’s the thing:
Dry and wet cat food from the store may be adequate to maintain your kitty’s health, especially if you’re buying high-quality brands that don’t contain fillers, artificial ingredients, and other harmful additives. But to truly maximize your cat’s health and lifespan, you may want to consider supplementing her diet with natural foods.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to look for obscure products found only in specialty grocery stores. Many of the fruits, vegetables, and meats that we normally enjoy on our own plates can actually be a great addition to your kitty’s food dish, too.
The avocado fruit, formal name Persea americana, is one potential example. Can cats have avocado? Is it a safe food for our four-legged family members? And, if so, how much avocado is enough, and how much is too much?
If you’re a cat owner and have wondered if your favorite Mexican food ingredient is safe for your kitty to consume, then you’ll probably be pleased to know that it is…with a few important exceptions to consider.
Not Just for the Guacamole: The Many Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are native to South Central Mexico but can also be found growing throughout the Western United States. Believe it or not, the avocado is actually considered a berry from the flowering plant family Lauraceae (other well-known members include the cinnamon plant, bay leaves, and laurel tree).
Also known as the alligator pear, the nutrient-dense avocado is well-known for being a health food.
And for good reason.
As a fruit, the avocado offers 3 key health benefits to humans and animals alike: protein, fat, and antioxidants.
High Quality Protein
Avocados contain amino acids, which are like the individual bricks to the brick wall of dietary protein. Protein is critical for a variety of physiological functions, such as:
- Energy production
- Muscle development
- Proper organ function
- Strong immunity
- Growth of healthy skin, hair, and nails
These benefits are necessary for humans and animals alike.
The avocado fruit actually contains over 18 protein-building amino acids. This makes avocado a great source of natural and complete protein for kittens, adult cats, and senior cats.
After decades of being lambasted by the media, dietary fat is finally being recognized as an essential component of a healthy balanced diet. The fat found in avocados is especially beneficial for humans and their kitty companions.
Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Strawberries.
In fact, over 75% of the fat found in avocados is either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated–strange sounding words that simply describe the molecular structure of certain fat molecules. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered “healthy fat,” as opposed to trans fats and certain saturated fats typically found in processed sweets and meats.
Specifically, the fat found in avocado has a powerful anti-inflammation effect on the body and promotes healthy heart and skin.
The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals found in avocados are critical for bolstering the immune system. They help prevent and even reverse cell damage that may occur due to illness, injury, environmental stress, processed food consumption, and aging.
Some specific antioxidants found in avocados include compounds like lycopene and beta-carotene. These are found in the highest concentration in the dark green meat closest to the peel.
Can Cats Eat Avocado?
So, avocados are healthy–no doubt about it. They taste good and they’re easy to eat alone, on top of a salad, in a smoothie, or as a simple side. There are even recipes out there that show you how to mix avocados into a dessert!
But…what about your cat?
As it turns out, both the meat and oil of avocado have been shown to be safe for kitty consumption–in moderation. These can be mixed into your cat’s normal food or provided as a special stand-alone treat.
Some pet parents choose to give their cats products that are specially formulated with avocado, such as the cat food brand AvoDerm®. This way, cats eat avocado without their pet parents having to worry about giving them too much or not enough of the powerful fruit.
After all, too much avocado–especially due to its high fat content–can lead to diarrhea and other forms of gastrointestinal upset. Older cats or cats with chronic health problems may have more sensitive stomachs. So, always use caution when giving avocado products to your senior and/or chronically ill kitty.
But I Heard That Avocados Are Bad For Cats. Is This True?
While the meat of the avocado fruit is safe to consume, other parts of the avocado can actually be potentially harmful to your kitty companion.
The source of all the confusion is persin. Persin is an organic compound found naturally within the stem, peel, leaves, and pit of an avocado. Persin is especially potent in Guatemalan avocados. To cats, persin is actually considered a toxin (but not so for humans).
Fortunately, persin is not found in extracts of avocado, which explains why cat food brands that contain avocado oil are generally safe. Even a little bit of fresh avocado fruit is usually okay, provided that not too much is given and careful attention is paid to how your cat reacts to the supplementary food.
It’s worth remembering, too, that aside from potentially exposing your cat to the persin toxin, the peel, stem, leaves, and pit of an avocado can also serve as a choking hazard for your cat. So, be sure to keep the avocado discards safely away from your pet, and always call your vet with concerns or questions.
What to do if My Cats Ate Too Much Avocados
The meat and oils of avocados are safe for eating. However, it must be pointed out that its stems, leaves, rind and pits particularly those of the Guatemalan variety, are toxic and should not go anywhere near your cat’s mouth. As a responsible pet parent, you should always be constantly vigilant of your pet’s health and safety.
Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Tomatoes.
Any reliable cat expert will tell you that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Young kittens, elderly cats and those with health problems are more likely to have a bad reaction to avocado. Bits and pieces of the avocado can also possess a choking hazard.
If you ever notice anything peculiar after your cat has eaten avocados, such as swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, difficulty in breathing, high fever, rapid heartbeat or other problems, call your veterinarian or dial the Pet Poison Helpline. The Poison Control Center’s emergency hotline is always an option.
These hotlines are always available to assist you seven days a week at any time of the day. Your vet or the helpline staff will tell you how best to help your ailing furry friend. Listen carefully and do what must be done.
The Bottom Line: Cats And Avocado
Avocado can be a healthy supplement to your kitty’s diet. Consult with your vet or ask a trusted source about how much avocado product your cat should get in its diet.
Instead of slicing a few fresh pieces of avocado into your pet’s food, consider buying products that have been specially formulated with avocado oil and/or fruit. This ensures that you’re giving your cat the right amount of avocado oil without going overboard, nor exposing your animal to persin.
Remember, never give your cat the leaves, peel, stem, or pit of an avocado, as these parts of the fruit may actually make your cat sick.
If your animal does consume any parts of the avocado fruit other than the healthy green flesh–or if she consumes too much avocado in one sitting–then call your vet right away. He or she can give you guidance on what to do next.
And lastly, remember to give guacamole to your human family members only. The spicy onions and jalapeno peppers found in this popular dip (homemade or store bought) can be harmful to your cat.
- Avocados by David Dekevich, Florida Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence Liaison at the Florida Department of Health
- FDA Sampling Fresh Herbs, Guacamole and Processed Avocado U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Avocado Pet Poison Helpline